And Then What?

A newly developed artificial intelligence model, referred to as ChatGPT, has been trained to interact in a conversational way. This dialogue format allows the AI model to “answer questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests.”

The buzz in the tech world – currently mainstreaming – is that a version of this model is being used to write stories, novels, essays, etc. The programmer feeds the AI model the desired parameters and algorithms are used to create a desired product.

I have not tried this myself, but I am curious because it means a huge and unsettling, change in the way we share ideas. stories, letters, and essays. While the impact of this technology in our larger world order may be useful, I’m looking here from a more limited, senior perspective and from the perspective of being a writer.

Can you imagine? It’s a little disconcerting for me to think of AI being used in the creative areas of our lives. “Was that poem written by Longfellow? No, it was created with artificial intelligence.” That’s fingernails on a chalkboard to this writer and lover of human talents over prose created mechanically with developed algorithms. 

To what end are we bypassing the creative core to get to a finished product?
Are we in such a hurry that a swift scurry to the end is worth foregoing all else? While we’re training machines to be more like us, are we also training ourselves to be more like machines?

And then we get to the end.

And then what?

We’re zipping through all these experiences to get to what exactly?

When we don’t take time to smell the flowers or savor the scent of a freshly baked blueberry muffin, we’re being more machine-like. We’re effectively saying the stuff of creating isn’t important or certainly not nearly as important as the final product.

AI and Spirituality

Let’s not forget the impact of AI on our hearts and souls. Maria Shriver spoke about the place of AI in our human connections. A friend of hers, Tom, put it very succinctly:

“Can it help spread the effects of love? If not, then it’s just the result of the restless mind of humanity, which, when it confronts the deepest riddles and challenges of life, gives up and—lying to itself about the significance of its quest—takes refuge in clever puzzles and cute stunts that do nothing to ease suffering or spread love, but instead give the restless, addictive mind a buzz, which tricks us into thinking we’re on the right track.

So, to the question, will AI replace us? Well, it may displace millions from their work, and that should be a profound concern, but it will not displace a single human being from their true purpose, which is to find a way to break through our divisions and become one with each other in love. Because that original and primordial human challenge is a battle that can only be won in the dark and terrifying chambers of the human mind, where we confront and defeat fear. And ChatGPT is not a tool that can help us in that quest. It’s just another artifact produced by our habit of fleeing the quest.”

Now More Than Ever?

Now, during our senior years, appreciating the subtleties and creative processes to arrive at the end is never more important. If we can’t enjoy the home-grown nature of scintillating smells or can’t appreciate each stunningly unique sunset nature presents us, then what is there for our pleasure? Just one second of perfection without acknowledgement of how we got there or what it took to create the perfection? To me, the words aren’t as sweet, as heartfelt, and don’t connect with my core if they’ve been mechanically developed and digitized.

Isn’t the pure definition of retirement and enjoying our senior years to view, participate in, and at least appreciate the process of getting there? We have the time. We have the expertise. We have the appreciation of how the task might have been challenging and time-consuming. What happens to us when we bypass this to get to the end?

When we get that one thing done and behind us, what do we have ahead of us to look forward to?

“It can be tempting to rush through our hardest work,” says Austin Kleon.

And then what?